Saudi Arabia's royal family anger French bathers by 'closing public beach' near their villa in Vallauris

Local swimmers are not impressed by the move

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The Independent Online

A row has erupted between the Saudi royal family and French bathers over access to a beach in the Cote d’Azur.

The public beach in Vallauris will be reportedly closed to bathers during an upcoming visit by the household of King Salman who owns a villa on the coastline.

Under French law, the beach is open to the public, with a section reserved for nudists. Nice Matin reports that the royal family has tried to block an underpass which gives access to the beach, much to the irritation of locals.

One bather, Michelle Salucki, told the magazine: “It happened on Friday between midday and 2 o’clock. Workers poured a block of concrete right there on the sand. They installed barriers around it. Work is still continuing. The dirt and the noise are stopping us from being able to enjoy this idyllic area.

“Some workers even said to a woman that she should enjoy it whilst she can because soon access won’t be possible at all.”

Blandine Ackermann, president of a local environment group has told The Daily Telegraph that she is planning to take legal action if the beach is not re-opened to the public. She said: “This concrete slab is taking up half the beach. It’s an outrage.

“If the King feels unsafe on the beach then he should stay in his villa. Already the property has very high walls and is totally closed. It’s a fortress. He never swims anyway. I’ve never seen anyone from the villa swim there.

“They have decided to annex part of the beach but it doesn’t belong to them. We’re not in Saudi Arabia here.”

She said talks with representatives of the royals regarding access to the beach are due to take place on Thursday.